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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Random Ideas Sundays: 4 uses for a Canopus ADVC You may have not thought of....

At one point, some one will ask you:

"Can you get the footage off of this VHS tape?"

VHS, being the long dead dinosaur it is in today's
modern world, is still used by many producers of
video: it's cheap, it's easy to record to ( insert tape,
record) and it can be stored easily.

The most often used product to bridge the gap
between this tried and true format of yesteryear
and today's digital format is the Canopus ADVC
box. The current model is the ADVC-110, but
many still use ( and buy at a fraction of the cost)
it's predecessor, the ADVC-100.
( I myself proudly own an ADVC-100).

The ADVC-100 can digital transfer from
any standard analog RCA jack or S-VHS
source via Firewire to your Mac in DV Format,
making it suitable to get tons of old family footage
off of VHS into iMovie and then out to iDVD,
for watching in the living room.

Having done all of my VHS tape footage
over the course of 5 years, I put my ADVC-100
on the shelf last year & hadn't given it much thought.

Recently I pulled it down again while trying
to overcome some problems I was encountering
to some tasks that I wanted to accomplish.
Now, while their are probably other ways of doing
what I wanted, the fact was, by using the
Canopus ADVC-100 to accomplish these tasks,
I was giving it new life and new purpose.

Here now, I'll share these with you and see if you can use your
Canopus unit next time in any of these scenarios, or come up
with your own to extend the life of your Canopus ADVC unit.

1. Capture footage from VCDs:

Last week while trying to get around a problem of getting
some footage off of a VCD ( yes, I have some of those as well),
I encountered an I/O ( In Out) error trying to copy it
through my Computer's Optical drive.

Rather than give up I tried to play the file using VLC's player,
and came up with an idea: The footage could play fine,
but ended short of a few seconds where the bad spot
in the disc was.

So I then it struck me:
I could play the VCD though my settop DVD Player,
run the analog output through my Canopus, and
digitize to DV Stream in realtime,
capturing the footage in realtime direct into iMovie.

Since I only needed the small section of footage before the
bad section of the CD, this would avoid a crash of trying
to extract it through MpegStreamclip,
which would trash the resulting decoding once
it hit the bad spot in the disc.

2. Use it to Digitize Cassette Tapes:

Another such idea came to mind, since I could get
anything analog into the mac via the Canopus,
why not try my hand at digitizing analog audio?

Using a simple portable hand held cassette recorder,
I ran the audio into the Canopus using a trusty
Y- Stereo Audio Cable
from Radio Shack, going out of the player's
headphone jack and into
the audio ports of the Canopus.

Result: I was able to ingest songs from the player
directly into iMovie,
and then export to AIFF from iMovie to iTunes
to put on my iPod.

3. Use it to record video back to a DVD Recorder.

iMovie, FCE and FCP all have the ability to Print Video to Tape,
and by hooking up a mac via FW to the Canopus,
you can Print Video out via FW. The digital signal
can be then routed out to a standalone DVD Recorder
for realtime authoring to a DVD.

This is a great way to get a rough of your timeline out to
a DVD, in realtime. If you needed to show off
a rough edit to a client, this is a surefire way
to get a rough made and avoid the length
of time to compress via iDVD.

4. Use it to bridge Playback to a TV from your Mac.

Of course, a surefire use for the unit is to use the Print to
Tape feature to print out video playback of the timeline
through the Canopus to a VCR or DVD Recorder
connected to a TV, and you can then use your TV
as a cheap way to "monitor" your timeline to
see how your transitions and effects look on a TV,
as well as how the footage in general will look, and if you
need to color correct it before finalizing it.

While having a dedicated Playback Monitor setup would
be ideal so that you can color correct as you go,
for the Independent Videographer, or prosumer
hobbyist on a budget, this is a good way
to work until you get your movie editing to
pay for itself, and thus by new equipment
for your setup.

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